Senate Bill on Localism and Diversity Applauded
December 4, 2007
Jen Howard, Free Press & Jen Fuson, Consumers Union
WASHINGTON -- Today, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the bipartisan "Media Ownership Act of 2007" — sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.). The bill would direct the FCC to conduct a separate proceeding on localism and create an independent minority and female ownership task force before moving forward with any changes to media ownership limits. The bill would also give the public a 90-day comment period on any proposed rules.
"Chairman Martin's policymaking by press release has run into a brick wall of bipartisan opposition in Congress," said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press. "This important legislation promises to redirect the FCC's moral compass toward the long-ignored issues of media diversity and localism. The Senate has joined the American public in demanding that the FCC protect the public interest and shelve its plans for handouts to corporate media companies."
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has proposed lifting the longstanding ban on one company owning both the daily newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same market. He has pushed for a vote on his proposal by Dec. 18.
"We are grateful that a bipartisan majority of the Senate Commerce Committee voted for more transparency and more public input into the FCC's attempt to eliminate important media ownership rules," said Gene Kimmelman, vice president of federal and international affairs for Consumers Union.
Read the Media Ownership Act of 2007: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.2332: